The Strand: A Catch-All of Local Music and Art


Emma Kostyun, Contributing Writer

DOVER, NHNestled onto Third Street in Dover, New Hampshire, is The Strand, an old historic movie theater that is making a comeback to appeal to younger audiences. It’s one of Dover’s performing arts centers, operated under the direction of Dan Demers since 2015.

The Strand was built on Sept. 22, 1919 as a venue for movies and vaudeville theater. It was auctioned off in 2009 and inherited by Demers through a newspaper ad a few years later. He uses it as a catch-all of local art and music, including movies, plays, musicals, bands, orchestras and even comedy shows.

“One of the things that I believe is, in order to keep the arts alive in the community, you need to keep it alive in the schools first. Kids have to be exposed to it so they can enjoy it later on,” Demers said. He wishes to partner with schools in the area, one being the University of New Hampshire (UNH) due to the well-developed arts and music program that it holds.

Being a UNH student himself, a first-year studying technical theater, Demers knows first hand the talent that UNH’s art and music department has to offer. A goal for Demers is to have one day a month dedicated to UNH students at the Strand, where students can showcase their talents. It would be free for UNH students to perform and attend.

“The Strand is a non-profit community-focused business in downtown Dover. We provide entertainment and new experiences for all generations,” according to The Strand website. Demers envisions an affordable spot that locals will want to be a part of.

“This is a self-financed project,” says Demers, “I don’t want to take out bank loans, the money that comes into the Strand is used to make the experience better for the customers.” 

Front end Manager, AJ Jessome, became a part of the organization when Demers offered them a concession job. Jessome idolizes Demers for his passion and calling to give back to the community.

“He was really passionate. I mean he really cared about the history and the town. He was really trying to bring that back to life,” said Jessome. 

With Strand being a non-profit business, the staff is mostly volunteers and there are months where employees can’t be paid due to the low number of ticket sales, according to Jessome. Even with non-profit grants, The Strand struggles to make ends meet. They encourage people to visit their site in order to become aware of what the venue has to offer.

Matt Pietry is a Strand worker who focuses on booking bands. Pietry noticed the advertisement struggle and began his own company, Strange Attractions, which books bands for the Strand. In the 2023 season, Strange Attractions is in contract with 36 bands to make sure that two shows a month are booked. These are bands ranging in genre, some of them being UNH bands, Seacoast bands and some straight from Boston.

Joshua Testa, third-year computer science major at UNH first heard of The Strand when his girlfriend bought tickets to the Creature Double Feature in October. 

“At first I didn’t think much of it, (Strand) but I realized that it wasn’t just a cool and retro building, but that it was something more,” Testa said.

 Demers, also known to locals as Mr. Strand is in the pursuit to write, direct and produce his own production in the upcoming year called ‘A Children’s Movie Musical.’ Demers is also putting together a team for interactive movies in the upcoming 2023 season including Jurassic Park and Frozen. 

The Strand has a lot of upcoming events including comedy nights, family karaoke, elementary and middle school plays, and even free salsa dance lessons. More information can be found here.